As part of the Re:solutions series this historical title has been mastered from original analog sources and reissued in January 2014. “Something special happens when they play together” observed Robert Palmer in the New York Times, and the participants concurred. “Playing with John is one of my favourite things to do,” said Ralph Towner. “I can play as much as when playing solo, and still get to ply my skills as accompanist.
As part of the Re:solutions series this historical title has been mastered from original analog sources and reissued in January 2014. Between 1979 and 1982, the Miroslav Vitouš Group was the primary outlet for the abundant improvisational skills of leader Vitouš and John Surman. They made three ECM albums: this eponymously-titled disc from 1980 is the middle one.
It is very much out of character for the prolific Keith Jarrett and his producer Manfred Eicher to hold anything back, yet they've done it here, releasing these live tapes of Jarrett's European quartet ten years after they were recorded. Presumably, they did it in order not to distract attention from Nude Ants, which was recorded a week after these concerts, but that never stopped them before from just piling on more discs. In any case, these Tokyo recordings were too good to hide; the quartet had reached an interactive creative high around this time, often burning at the rarified level that Nude Ants reached.
Thanks in no small part to ECM founder Manfred Eicher's patience and indulgence, here we have another of Keith Jarrett's myriad "special projects" – two CDs of music recorded on a clavichord. This carries Jarrett's anti-electric crusade to a real extreme, the clavichord being a keyboard from J.S. Bach's day, obsolete for over 200 years. The instrument produces a gentle pinging sound like a harpsichord crossed with a zither (the amplified Hohner Clavinet is the closest sound in our time), and Jarrett occasionally tries to stretch the instrument's limited possibilities, hammering percussively on the close-miked strings. Yet for the most part, Jarrett reins in his world-class technique in order to make unpretentiously minimal music on this ancient keyboard. Some of it sounds like folk music, some like new age contemplation, there are convincing neo-baroque musings, and a few of these untitled though numbered selections kick into a higher gear. Sometimes this music is charming…But hey, they also laughed when Keith started putting out massive sets of solo piano…
With Eyes Of The Heart, musician’s musician Keith Jarrett landed one of his last American Quartet flights. This live performance, recorded just one month after The Survivors’ Suite, is a journey of a rather different stripe. Jarrett whoops with delight as he opens Part One in a delicate congregation of drums. The kalimba-like bass of Charlie Haden hops from one foot to another as Jarrett looses a soprano sax into the prevailing winds. Only later does the expected piano shine through his fingertips.
Ballads, which really seems to make ballads out of ballads, has been considered both worthy of hanging on the museum wall alongside the other masterpieces and being accorded special merit as the jazz record most used for background music. Since no less a genius than the great French composer Erik Satie invented the concept of background music, this might not be such a contradiction or insult. Only the short "Circles" invites a real comparison with the piano music of Satie; elsewhere you're in extremely extended territory, Paul Bley's desire to play the slowest music in history meshing with a new style of rhythm section accompaniment that sounds like everything from tuning the drums to adjusting the drapes.
A fascinating set from three strong and contrasting musical personalities: Norwegian saxophonist, Brazilian guitarist-pianist, and US bassist making purposeful and creative music together on this previously unreleased live recording. “Carta de Amor” documents music captured at Munich’s Amerika Haus in April, 1981. Two years on from the much-loved albums “Magico” (ECM 1151) and “Folk Songs” (ECM 1170), the trio’s improvisational empathy and sensibilities were further honed by experiences as a touring group. Repertoire includes five pieces from Gismonti’s pen, with the title track heard in two variations, opening and closing this enthralling double album.
“Avenging Angel” is Craig Taborn’s distinguished contribution to the great solo piano tradition at ECM, a powerful, purposeful and rigorous album, which rises to the challenges of the format and transcends them. The disc explores the textural dimensions of sound, builds new structures, uncovers a rugged lyricism. Recorded in the optimal acoustics of the recital room at Lugano’s Studio RSI, with Manfred Eicher producing, it’s Taborn’s first disc under his own name for ECM, following on from inspired sessions with Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, David Torn and Michael Formanek.
The second ECM album by Norwegian cooperative group The Source gets back to basics. Since its formation in 1993, when founder-members Trygve Seim, Øyvind Brække and Per Oddvar Johansen were all students at the Trøndelag Conservatory of Music in Trondheim, The Source has been very much a moveable feast, its motto, "No two concerts alike!" The group has embraced the wildest stylistic collisions, working variously with poets and DJs, rai vocalists and rappers, ice hockey players, and conceptual and performance artists. Their collaborators have ranged from rock band Motorpsycho to classical musicians including the Cikada String Quartet (as on their 2000 ECM recording The Source and Different Cikadas). Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of their performances have been as a quartet, most of their music was written for quartet, and this eponymously titled disc addresses a backlog of much-played material whose appearance on disc is overdue.
Box set in ECM’s acclaimed Old & New Masters series reintroduces Arild Andersen’s first three leader dates for the label – Clouds In My Head, Shimri, and Green Shading Into Blue. Recorded between 1975 and 1978, none of these albums has previously been issued on compact disc, and this edition is eagerly awaited. The music traces Andersen’s personal evolution from ‘free’-inclined bassist to bandleader-composer and introduces some players who would prove important for the future of the music – amongst them an 18-year-old Jon Balke on the “Clouds” session.